By Carolyn Aronson
I would like to take exception to Rep. Diane Black's recent newsletter about President Obama and the Democrats. I have had concerns for some time that Rep. Black does not represent the majority of the constituents in her district. Like many others in her party, she continues to put forth the same stale talking points that are not borne out by the facts. Instead, she picks and chooses to support false talking points.
For instance, she took a small business owner from Cookeville as her guest to the State of the Union address. Her guest had chosen to provide his employees with health insurance, certainly an admirable act on his part. However, he believed that he was being subjected to higher taxes under the Affordable Care Act.
I did a little checking on my own. According to the IRS site on the Internet, businesses with less than 25 employees are eligible for tax credits to help defray the cost of providing health insurance to their workforce. Employers with less than 50 employees can access the SHOP marketplace on the ACA website to look for reasonably priced insurance for their employees. Employers with more than 50 employees are considered large and will have different tax and reporting mandates. Perhaps this is information that Rep. Black could have helped her guest access rather than putting forth what appears to be misinformation.
Health insurance rates have a history of annual increases prior to the ACA, which has a goal of lowering costs and which is already having an impact in that area. Why don’t we ever hear from Ms. Black about some of the individuals who have contacted her office to say that, thanks to the new ACA Marketplace, they have located insurance for the first time or at a lower rate than they previously paid? How many individuals have been assisted by her staff to access the marketplace to locate insurance, including those who got termination notices from their insurance companies because the company could no longer reap huge profits from selling junk policies?
To many of us, it appears that the Republican Party is continuing to showcase only those “local folks” they are sure will tell about their negative experiences. Yet, when followed up by journalists, most of those stories have turned out to be less than truthful or complete. Rep. Black should be assisting her constituents in navigating the system. She should be promoting Medicaid expansion with Gov. Haslam to improve the health status of Tennessee.
We need to send thoughtful people to Congress who are willing to stand up for the needs of their poorest constituents and vote for what is in the best interest of the country (as a whole).
The Affordable Care Act, while not perfect, is the beginning of a new day for decent healthcare for ALL citizens of this country. God bless the USA (not just the 1%)!